Friday, November 26, 2010
A Small Furry Prayer by Steven Kotler
A Small Furry Prayer is a misleading title. To me Prayer suggests that the only thing that can save little dogs is god, when people are doing all the leg work in this non-fiction story of dog rescue and the scientific wonder that is the domesticated dog we know today.
A Small Furry Prayer? How about A Small Furry Marvel? Each chapter begins with Steven Kotler's personal stories detailing the pain and joy of dog rescue, and moves into scientific research done that explains what motivates him or the dogs to behave the way they do. I was hoping for an emphasis on the personal stories, but the science behind dog behavior was fascinating to me.
Earlier this year I read Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin. Many of the ideas I read about in that book were discussed in A Small Furry Prayer, and in fact, Animals in Translation was referenced in A Small Furry Prayer. One chapter brought up neoteny, which is what biologically makes dogs cuter and more baby-like, which in turn makes people want to take care of them. The notion that dogs and people co-evolved was also introduced in Animals in Translation, but it was gone into with more detail in this book. Aldous Huxley and Aldo Leopold, two other authors I've read in the past few years, were also referenced. If Glee was a book, this was my Mash-Up.
Aside from reading research that tells us why dogs can be homosexual and why dogs might choose to do drugs, there are some funny quotes. My favorites are, "...despite all evidence to the contrary, this was in fact my life."
and (for obvious reasons),
"Sure, my posse was mostly crippled Chihuahuas, but you'd be surprised how much ass a crippled Chihuahua can kick."
He also swears a lot which I just thought was fun!
Mr. Kotler proposes that dogs are a part of people, have complicated brains capable of thinking, love and altruism, and deserve more than euthanasia in an overcrowded shelter. His ideas may seem idealistic, but it makes me feel good to know there are people like him in the world.
P.S. At the end of the book he included a playlist he listened to while he wrote the book. I wish he had put it at the beginning. I love making playlists that go with books. I made one anyway, inspired by his, and listened to it while I wrote my review.
P.P.S. Click on Rancho de Chihuahua if you want to check out his rescue.
And click on Friends for Life if you want to check out the shelter my friend volunteers at.
P.P.P.S. Gratuitous cute Chihuahua picture: